Monday, April 6, 2015

Vogue 8876 Renovation + Wardrobe Contest

First things first: inspired by your comments and good ideas, I made some changes to my Vogue 8876 sweater jacket from my last post. While I feel better in the 2.0 version, I'm not sure the resulting garment will be quite the wardrobe workhorse I had originally envisioned because:

I removed the sleeves and made it into a vest.

Usually, when I am chilly enough to need a vest, I am chilly enough to also want an extra layer on my arms. The adage "if your torso is warm, your whole body will be warm" isn't true for me. I decided in this case, however, to do what I thought would have a better chance of producing a successful garment rather than what suits my usual functional requirements.

In addition to removing the sleeves, I picked off the bias trim at the hem and shortened the length slightly, and I reduced the volume of the lower part of the garment by a whopping 12"! The reduction in fullness was achieved by sewing both the front and the back pleats closed through the hemline and by taking in the side seams by 4" per side. I could still hide an early pregnancy under there, though I certainly don't plan to. Now the piece looks roomy rather than completely overwhelming.

So, that's the update on the Vogue 8876 front. On to new business.

I sewed up a very simple pair of pants (worn in the photos above) on Saturday. Any elastic waist pants pattern would have done the trick, except for my TNT (tried 'n true) elastic waist pants pattern, which has mysteriously become less billowy recently. I can't imagine what could have caused that to happen...

In any event, I used Butterick 5203, size 14, shortened on all the petite lines plus an extra 1 1/2" at the top of the waistband (otherwise I think the waist would have reached nearly to the bottom of my bra band) and an extra 4" at the hem (to make the cropped length). I've had such rotten results with pants of late that I decided to skip adding pockets or any other details--expending only the absolute minimum effort necessary to test the pattern and, as it turns out, end up with a wearable garment.

The fabric is a black rayon challis from FabricMart. It was on sale and inexpensive but it feels fantastically light and cool, and the nice drape makes it as flattering as a loose-fitting, elastic-waist pant is going to be. At the lower edge, I turned up a 1 1/8" casing and inserted 1" elastic to make a sporty gathered cuff.

This picture is so much like the others! My husband has limited patience for this sort of thing.
The top underneath is Butterick 5954.

It was only after I finished up these oh-so-basic pants that I realized a new Pattern Review Wardrobe contest started on April 1. Whether or not I will actually enter the contest, I decided to sew along with the concept: a full capsule wardrobe of nine pieces that work together.

The contest wardrobe consists of:

  • Four tops
  • Three bottoms
  • Two items of the sewer's choosing (could be a dress, a jacket, a cardigan--whatever)
I have so many new motivations for wanting to sew a different kind of clothing just now! For one thing, I have become entranced with the work of Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and author whose basic message is that we need a whole lot more movement in our lives. An hour of exercise per day, no matter how intense, is not enough to maintain a healthy human structure and biology. As startling and unrealistic as this idea seems at first, after reading Katy's work for a while, I am starting to see how I might be able to incorporate her suggestions for adding more movement to my day while still getting life done. But pretty, whimsical dresses are not exactly the ticket when one wants to alternate between walking, standing, sitting on the floor, stretching and hanging from a bar throughout the day. I need movement-friendly clothing! And I want it to be compatible with comfortable, not-very-restrictive bras and minimal/barefoot shoes.

Second, I am taking on a new "job" supporting business development and marketing for my husband's new architecture practice. Since my former professional networking wardrobe is ten years old, too small and too stuffy for Asheville in any event, I need new versatile pieces that work in a casual business and community environment.

More movement or not, my size and shape are changing in the second half of my forties. I vow to fight on, but today's reality is a more middle-aged form! This translates into a need for a shift in my ideas about the kinds of clothing shapes that flatter me. 

Finally, I feel ready for a change. I am really excited about trying some new things. And I definitely need some new basics in my closet--most of my every day items are overdue for replacement.

That all adds up to excitement for the Wardrobe Contest. I also finished two new (very basic tops) over the weekend, which I will show you soon.

What do you think of the contest? Can I convince you to join in, officially or unofficially?


  1. Well, no sewing of a new wardrobe for me (I am far too slow, and too much of a procrastinator!) But I'll gladly follow your progress, Virginia, and cheer from the sidelines - it seems you have some very good reasons for wanting to revamp your wardrobe, and I look forward to seeing what you make, and why. Exciting times! I hear you about the changing body shape, btw, I never weigh myself but I FEEL heavier and more pear-shaped than I used to, as though my flesh is settling downwards (if that doesn't sound too awful...) But as with any frame, it's all about how you dress it, and I'll adapt, as will you! xxx

  2. Virginia you look cute as a button and ready for anything! Propitious start to your new wardrobe goals :)

    i don't know, of course i've changed thru the years - i appreciate the opportunity to try something different and change things up. I had a period in my late thirties where i didn't change that much and frankly it started freaking me out - !!! It's also great to take time to catch up with where we actually are in life, instead of just kind of going along on autopilot.

    So i'm all for your wardrobe contest! i won't enter myself, i can't recall ever sewing at that rate!! Though frankly the way i go thru clothes i could use the output. Recently i've found myself more and more drawn towards uniforms - the last few months a white shirt, jeans or a linen skirt, boots hat and jacket with jewelry has been my go-to and most satisfying look. Then this lady has burst on the scene:

    It helps to have a stellar uniform - that blouse is divine!

    Which has me pondering cranking out a few white blouses, TNT-style. It helps i'm just finishing my first Bruyere Deer and Doe which is easy to fit and make (white linen with Alabama Chanin style stencil/embroidery). hmm. You have got my noggin buzzing!!

    I will be watching along avidly!! steph

  3. Hi Virginia, thanks for stopping by Project Minima. I have that pattern too. I made the dress out of it and just love the shape. Perhaps in a shorter version, it's just too full, especially with the bottom piece missing that brings the shape back inward. What you've done seems like a good compromise.

    Noticing your body change and discovering new ways to dress is a difficult process at first. I swear I have only just now gotten the hang of it as I move into my 60s. 40s was fine, 50s were really, really hard to acknowledge, accept, and then get over the fact that what I used to wear didn't work for me anymore. There was a stretch of time I only wore big, baggy, black things. so depressing. But really, Advanced Style blog changed by life. I started having fun with clothes again, sewing, etc. I shop at FabricMart too! Have fun with your wardrobe capsule.

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  5. Virginia,

    You have some serious sewing talent! I am so envious. I have no talent in this area at all but wish I did. Love your blog!


  6. Your vest turned out great! and looks very nice on you. I like your whole outfit! :)

  7. Hi Virginia, I'd like to ask you a few question about a Neechi BU Nova with a VN on the bed that is for sale. I think it's a 1954, zig zag machine. I have a few pics I can send. Can you please shoot me an email or send me a message on Facebook so we can talk?

    thanks in advance

  8. You have thusme serious stitching talent! i'm so covetous. I actually have no talent during this space the least bit however would like I did. I really love your awesome bolg!.
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